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Morphologic and morphometric magnetic resonance imaging features of Doberman Pinschers with and without clinical signs of cervical spondylomyelopathy

Ronaldo C. da Costa DMV, PhD1, Joane M. Parent DMV, MVetSc2, Gary Partlow PhD3, Howard Dobson BVM&S, DVSc4, David L. Holmberg DVM5, and Jonathan LaMarre DVM, PhD6
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  • 1 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 3 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 6 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1, Canada.

Abstract

Objective—To compare morphologic and morphometric features of the cervical vertebral column and spinal cord of Doberman Pinschers with and without clinical signs of cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM; wobbler syndrome) detected via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Animals—16 clinically normal and 16 CSM-affected Doberman Pinschers.

Procedures—For each dog, MRI of the cervical vertebral column (in neutral and traction positions) was performed. Morphologically, MRI abnormalities were classified according to a spinal cord compression scale. Foraminal stenosis and intervertebral disk degeneration and protrusion were also recorded. Morphometric measurements of the vertebral canal and spinal cord were obtained in sagittal and transverse MRI planes.

Results—4 of 16 clinically normal and 15 of 16 CSM-affected dogs had spinal cord compression. Twelve clinically normal and all CSM-affected dogs had disk degeneration. Foraminal stenosis was detected in 11 clinically normal and 14 CSM-affected dogs. Vertebral canal and spinal cord areas were consistently smaller in CSM-affected dogs, compared with clinically normal dogs. In neutral and traction positions, the intervertebral disks of CSM-affected dogs were wider than those of clinically normal dogs but the amount of disk distraction was similar between groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The incidence of intervertebral disk degeneration and foraminal stenosis in clinically normal Doberman Pinschers was high; cervical spinal cord compression may be present without concurrent clinical signs. A combination of static factors (ie, a relatively stenotic vertebral canal and wider intervertebral disks) distinguished CSM-affected dogs from clinically normal dogs and appears to be a key feature in the pathogenesis of CSM.

Abstract

Objective—To compare morphologic and morphometric features of the cervical vertebral column and spinal cord of Doberman Pinschers with and without clinical signs of cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM; wobbler syndrome) detected via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Animals—16 clinically normal and 16 CSM-affected Doberman Pinschers.

Procedures—For each dog, MRI of the cervical vertebral column (in neutral and traction positions) was performed. Morphologically, MRI abnormalities were classified according to a spinal cord compression scale. Foraminal stenosis and intervertebral disk degeneration and protrusion were also recorded. Morphometric measurements of the vertebral canal and spinal cord were obtained in sagittal and transverse MRI planes.

Results—4 of 16 clinically normal and 15 of 16 CSM-affected dogs had spinal cord compression. Twelve clinically normal and all CSM-affected dogs had disk degeneration. Foraminal stenosis was detected in 11 clinically normal and 14 CSM-affected dogs. Vertebral canal and spinal cord areas were consistently smaller in CSM-affected dogs, compared with clinically normal dogs. In neutral and traction positions, the intervertebral disks of CSM-affected dogs were wider than those of clinically normal dogs but the amount of disk distraction was similar between groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The incidence of intervertebral disk degeneration and foraminal stenosis in clinically normal Doberman Pinschers was high; cervical spinal cord compression may be present without concurrent clinical signs. A combination of static factors (ie, a relatively stenotic vertebral canal and wider intervertebral disks) distinguished CSM-affected dogs from clinically normal dogs and appears to be a key feature in the pathogenesis of CSM.

Contributor Notes

Dr. da Costa's present address is Universidade Federal do Paraná, Campus Palotina, Palotina, PR, 85950-000, Brazil.

Supported by the Pet Trust Foundation from the Ontario Veterinary College and the Doberman Foundation of America. Dr. da Costa was sponsored by the CNPq–National Scientific Research Council of Brazil.

Presented as an abstract at the 23rd Forum of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Baltimore, June 2005.

This report represents a portion of a thesis submitted by the first author to the University of Guelph as partial fulfillment for the PhD degree.

Address correspondence to Dr. da Costa.